Editor's Note: The following is a report on the practical applications of Kim Ketola's book, Cradle My Heart: Finding God's Love After Abortion (Kregel Publications, 2012).

If you’ve had an abortion, the pain of your grief and shame over deciding to take the life of your child may make you feel like avoiding God, worried that He may not really love you anymore after what you’ve done.

But God loves you no matter what, because His love for you isn’t based on what you do, but on who you are: one of His own beloved children. Out of the despair of death that abortion has brought into your life, God promises to bring the hope of new life if you pursue healing through a relationship with His Son, Jesus.

Here’s how you can find God’s love after an abortion:

Decide that you want to get well. Choose to move on from being stuck in the past and pursue the healing that God is offering you. Rather than continuing to suffer in silence, reach out to Jesus in the midst of your pain and invite Him to begin the healing process in your life. Seek the support of a few trusted friends or people in a support group or Bible study group whom you can trust to listen to you and pray for you without judging you. Begin to talk about your abortion with them as the Holy Spirit leads you.

Ask Jesus to give you His perspective on the abortion. Spend time with Jesus in prayer, asking Him to help you reflect on the abortion from His perspective so you can think about it accurately. Face the truth that the abortion was a mistake and a sin (not just a morally neutral choice), because it involved killing an innocent child (not just removing tissue from your body). Confess the reality of your sin and allow yourself to feel God’s sorrow about it, which will motivate you to repent of it. But as you do, remember that Jesus doesn’t plan to condemn you, but instead to heal you. His plan is not to cast you out from a relationship with Him, but to cradle you in His loving care. Ask Jesus to speak to you through the words of the Bible as you read, study, and meditate on them as you heal and move closer to Him. Pray to be able to sense His deep love for you and to learn how to trust Him more.

Trust in the power of God’s love to purify and redeem you. Don’t waste time or energy seeking healing through self-help tactics, since they don’t have any real power to help you. Instead, focus your efforts on relying more on the Holy Spirit to empower you each day, since that’s what will bring true transformation into your life. The more you rely on the Holy Spirit rather than on yourself, the more God’s love will flow through your soul – and when you have a saving relationship with Jesus, that love will purify you from sin and redeem your pain, so that something good will result from it.

Learn how to live in love and forgiveness. The aftermath of abortion can lead women to self-defeating behaviors such as promiscuity, addictions, eating disorders, and even suicide. But you don’t need to live a defeated life in which you don’t accept God’s love and forgiveness because you don’t feel worthy of it. Since God has deemed you worthy of His love and forgiveness and wants you to accept it, start doing so every day, and your confidence will grow. Remember that there’s nothing you can do to either earn or destroy God’s love for you, and that He freely forgives you when you place your trust in Jesus. Empowered by God’s love and forgiveness in your life, you’re free to build healthy relationships with other people in which you give and receive love and forgiveness to each other. Ask Jesus to help you learn new, healthier patterns of relating to people so that you can love and forgive them as He leads you.